Sir Keir Starmer has challenged the creative industry to “defend” the BBC and Channel 4 against “the Government’s attacks” which threaten their future.
The Labour leader branded Government plans to privatise Channel 4 and the threat to the BBC as a “direct attack” on the best of Britain’s creative work.
During a speech at the Creative Coalition Festival, he urged the sector to “be bold” and fight for the UK’s public broadcasting services, which he described as a “national treasure”.
He said: “Local news, the World Service, the BBC and Channel 4 are the narrators of our national story.
“They create jobs and drive productivity. The Conservatives threaten the future of these two great institutions.
“The plan to privatise Channel 4 and the threat to the BBC as we know it are a direct attack on some of the best of Britain’s creative work.”
‘Valuable cultural export’
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced that the BBC licence fee will be frozen for the next two years and has said she wants to find a new funding model for the broadcaster after the current licence fee funding deal expires in 2027.
In his speech, Sir Keir said that a commercial BBC would “rob us and the world” of a “valuable cultural export”.
Opening the three-day festival, Dorries unveiled a £50 million investment into the creative industries sector to “drive growth across the UK” as part of the Government’s commitment to “levelling up”.
However, Sir Keir said the privatisation of Channel 4 would put 60 UK production companies out of business “showing that the Government isn’t interested in growth”.
He added: “I want to challenge all of you here today and the wider sector to be bold to come together and assert your collective clout by speaking out in defence of the value of public sector broadcasting against the Government’s attacks.”
Meanwhile, Question Time will this week feature unvaccinated people in the audience after an appeal launched last month.
Presenter Fiona Bruce previously called for people who have chosen not to have a Covid-19 vaccine to apply for the episode, which will broadcast from London
“There are many different reasons why people have chosen not to get the vaccine – we would be interested to explore some of those issues,” she told viewers during an episode in January.
The current affairs programme sees members of the public ask questions of a panel of public figures, including politicians, journalists, authors and comedians – and vaccinations have been a point of discussion in many episodes since the start of the pandemic.
A statement from the BBC said: “There are still substantial numbers of the British public who are not vaccinated, especially in particular areas and communities.
“We think this is an interesting part of the debate which is worthy of discussion.
“Question Time always strives to discuss each side of every argument.
“This is about listening to, and understanding, our audience members. The BBC has always made the scientific consensus on vaccination very clear.”